A common theme emerges if you search online for ‘menopause cartoons’. There’s no shortage of offerings – over 7 million results when I Googled recently – and they overwhelmly depict women looking dumpy, dowdy and elderly….My generation – Gen X – don’t consider ourselves old, or dowdy, or past it.
I read This Changes Everything: The Honest Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause by New Zealand based journalist Niki Bezzant for Non-Fiction November, but my posting schedule blew out, so here it is a month later.
This Changes Everything is a well-researched, science-based approach to women’s health. My favourite kind! Like me, Bezzant avoids the woo-woo, although she does point out the few natural therapies that can work in certain instances, and she doesn’t discount the placebo effect when it comes to these types of product. She reminds us to always be wary of health advice that comes from someone trying to sell you their product.
I started reading peri-menopause books back in 2015.
I’d already been experiencing symptoms for a couple of years but didn’t know what they were, or that they were related, until a slightly older female friend set me straight. Doing some quick sums, and hoping that the figures in every single book I’ve read are accurate (that women tend to experience perimenopausal symptoms from between 2-10 years), I must be nearly at the end!
Each book has taught me something new, or shed a light on a particular issue I was facing at the time.
Each one has also reassured me that I wasn’t going crazy! Thankfully my experience has not been at the extreme end, but it has been consistent, persistent and enduring. Bezzant lists 42 possible symptoms associated with peri-menopause – over the past nine years I have ticked off all but a small handful of them. It’s one to-do list I could have done without!
For the 20% of women who experience none or very minimal symptoms – lucky you! And for the 20% who experience severe symptoms – my heart goes out to you. The rest of us in the 60% zone plod along, ticking off the symptom checklist one at a time, often wondering what is going on for us, until we pick up another book to discover that the weird feeling/change we have been living with is ‘just’ another part of the peri-menopausal journey.
Bezzant’s book is all about the oestrogen.
She clearly describes how it works in our bodies, and what happens as it fluctuates throughout perimenopause and on into menopause and post-menopause. The book is divided up into the various issues that affect most women, so if hot flushes are your main issue, a whole chapter covers off everything you need to know about them. Also included are chapters on mood swings, brain fog, sleeplessness, loss of libido, weight gain, changes to skin & hair, gut problems, and aches & pains.
Each chapter includes a section with anecdotes from real women. I confess I didn’t read them. I just wanted to know what was going on for me!
The newspaper column style chosen by Bezzant is not my preferred way of reading non-fiction, but we got by. Naturally the back of the book includes a great list of contacts and websites that are New Zealand-centric. A few Australian and UK sites are included plus a recommended reading list. For further reading Bezzant’s website includes an extensive list, chapter-by-chapter, of the books and articles used by her to write this book.
My reading list is below.
- The Feel Good Guide to Menopause | Dr Nicola Gates (Australian)
- Secrets of Women’s Healthy Ageing | Professor Cassandra Szoeke (Australian)
- The M Word: How to
SurviveThrive in Menopause | Dr Ginni Mansberg (Australian)
- The Middlepause: On Turning 50 | Marina Benjamin (British)
- You’re Still Hot to Me | Jean Kittson (Australian)
- TBR – The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism | Dr Jen Gunter (Canadian)
This Changes Everything is highly recommended for those looking for down-to-earth, fact-based information told with a dash of humour and lashings of practical advice.
Title: This Changes Everything: The honest guide to menopause and perimenopause Author: Niki Bezzant ISBN: 9780143776260 Imprint: Penguin Published: 5 January 2022 Format: Trade Paperback Pages: 320 Dates Read: 31 October 2022 - 15 November 2022
- This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.